The following checklist, questions, and tips form a system that can help you proof and improve the quality of the SlideShare presentations you create using Microsoft PowerPoint.
Proofing is a crucial step in using SlideShare for content marketing, as it involves more than just simply checking for spelling errors or transposed numbers.
SlideShare-based content marketing success requires rigorous attention to detail.
These details — like inconsistent placing, spacing, and typography — can quickly undermine the credibility of your message. If text and graphics aren’t carefully aligned on each slide, or type size and line spacing varies from slide to slide, your presentations run the risk of presenting an amateurish image.
This is especially true when proofing presentations that were created from scratch using PowerPoint, which can create issues because of its user interface. (See Tips for taking PowerPoint to the next level, below). You may note that while the issues described below are rarely found in presentations built using professionally-created custom presentation templates, it wouldn’t hurt to have this optimization system on hand, if you need it.
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3 steps to proofing success
Here’s a simple three-step system for proofing your SlideShare presentations using the SlideShare Proofing Checklist that I have developed (you can also download it here).
- Ask the right questions. Start by reviewing the 22 proofing questions, below. These will acquaint you with the major problem areas to watch out for when proofing your SlideShare presentations.
- List the problems that need to be addressed. After downloading and printing the SlideShare Proofing Checklist, use it to note the problems that need to be addressed, and their locations (i.e., slide numbers). The last column of the checklist provides space to add the slide numbers where the problems appeared.
- Fix each problem before moving on to the next one. Work through the list, one topic at a time. Used this way, the SlideShare Proofing Checklist provides a structure and accountability system that ensures you won’t inadvertently overlook problems that need to be corrected.
Proofing slide layout, text, and graphics
The following questions relate to the appearance of your slides.
Whenever possible, print out a copy of your presentation. You don’t have to print out color proofs; black and white copies are acceptable. You can also print two slides per page (indicate your selection in PowerPoint’s Print dialog box).
1. Are slide titles and text consistently aligned and placed on each slide? The slide title and slide text should appear in exactly the same locations on each slide. Inadvertent misalignment of text and graphic elements becomes very noticeable when slides follow each other in rapid succession.
2. Does the slide number appear on each slide (except the title slide)? Slide numbers in the header or footer of each slide help you and your viewers refer to specific slides. If slide numbers are not visible, you can add them by selecting View, Header and Footer, then clicking the Slide Numbers option in the Header and Footer dialog box.
3. Are typeface choices consistent with the typefaces used elsewhere in your content marketing materials? By default, most presentation visuals use familiar typefaces, such as sans serif options like Arial or serif typefaces like Times New Roman. Always check your corporate standards guidelines, however, and substitute typefaces that reflect the image and style used as part of your branding.
4. Did you limit typeface choices to those that SlideShare supports? Converting your presentations to Adobe Acrobat PDF files is always a good practice — it reduces the size of your presentation files and permits you to use any typeface. Otherwise, unwanted font substitutions might take place, which could play havoc with the design of your presentation. (Note that this is not a concern if you have converted your visuals to PDFs before uploading them to SlideShare.)
5. Is type size consistent in slide titles and lists from slide to slide? By default, PowerPoint’s AutoFit feature reduces type size as you type in order to fit everything in. However, variations in type size can project an amateurish appearance. As described below (in the Tips section), you can disable PowerPoint’s AutoFit feature.
6. Is text line spacing consistent from slide to slide? When using PowerPoint’s Format, Line Spacing command, the default is to use one-line spacing. In many cases, however, increasing text line spacing to 1.2 lines, for example, can significantly enhance the appearance and readability of your slides. (To be consistent throughout your presentation, however, you must change line spacing using PowerPoint’s View, Master, Slide Master command.)
7. Did you add extra space between items in bullet or text lists? If you frequently use bullet or text lists in your slides, select Format, Line Spacing and try increasing the Space After option to 1.2 or 1.3 lines. This will help visually organize your lists, especially if some of the listed items contain two or more lines.
8. Did you double-check the spelling of proper nouns, industry-specific terms, and jargon? No software spell-checker can possibly know the proper spelling of every possible proper noun, industry-specific term, and everyday terms used in your area. Always make sure your boss’s name and your client’s names are properly spelled!
9. Are graphics properly aligned with adjacent text and each other? Slight variations in the placement can become very noticeable when your visuals are viewed online. Pay particular attention to the spacing you set between graphics and adjacent text elements, especially the vertical alignment of text and graphics. (To adjust this, use the Draw command, found in the Drawing toolbar, followed by Align and Distribute and either Horizontally or Vertically.)
10. Have you been consistent in your use of borders around text and graphic elements? Make sure you haven’t inadvertently added a border to a graphic on one slide but not on similar graphics on other slides.
Handouts play a crucial role in the success of your SlideShare presentations. Handouts contain thumbnails of each slide, usually three to a page, accompanied by lines for taking notes. You can provide a link to the handouts in your description of your SlideShare presentation, or upload them as SlideShare a separate publication.
To add the following text element to your handouts, select View, Header and Footer. Then, click the Notes and Handouts tab and insert the desired text.
The only way you can proof your handouts is by printing them. (In the Print dialog box, select Handouts followed by the number of lines you need in the Slides per page drop-down menu. As before, reduce supply costs by printing in black and white.
11. Does the presentation title appear at the top of each page? The title usually appears at the top left of each page. If desired, you can place the current date, or your name, at the upper right.
12. Did you add your firm’s name, URL, and contact information to the bottom of each page of your handouts? This will make it easier for viewers to take the next step.
13. Does the page number appear on each page of your presentation handouts? The longer your presentation, the more important it is that you add page numbers to your handouts.
14. Are the typefaces, type size, and type style in headers and footers appropriate and consistent throughout your presentation? Type size is especially important, as PowerPoint’s defaults are usually too large to be proportionate for the handout pages.
15. Does header and footer text properly align with the slide thumbnails on each handout page? In many cases, the default placement of header and footer text is too close to the edges of each page, leading to cut-off text. The left and right hand margins of the text also may not align with the thumbnail images of the slides or the note-taking lines. Aligning these elements adds a professional touch to your handouts.
16. Have you only added slide frames, or borders, around slides, when needed? Avoid selecting the Frame slides option in the Print dialog box if your slides already include a border. Duplicate borders add clutter.
Uploading files to SlideShare
17. Did you convert presentation files to Adobe Acrobat PDFs to preserve text formatting? This also speeds uploading your presentations.
18. Did you check each link after uploading your presentation to SlideShare? This is a crucial step, especially if you converted your PowerPoint files to PDFs before uploading. It’s essential that all links be double-checked for accuracy and proper activation.
19. Did you create Notes to rehearse your audio narration? One of SlideShare’s nicest features is that you can easily update your presentation by adding an audio narration or uploading a new file with Notes for each slide. The notes feature will enhance your presentation’s search engine visibility.
20. Did you double-check the tags that appear with your presentation? SlideShare will automatically parse (or examine) your presentation and select appropriate tags for it. However, you may want to review SlideShare’s choices and add additional tags.
21. Have you explored ways to use video to reinforce key ideas in your presentation? At any point, you can insert a video to add a personal introduction to your presentation, illustrate a specific idea, or invite prospects to take the next step.
22. Did you create links between your SlideShare presentation and social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn? A little extra time spent reviewing SlideShare’s social media features can pay big dividends in promoting your presentation.
Tips for working with PowerPoint
On the surface, Microsoft PowerPoint makes it easy for non-designers to create good, workable presentations. However, taking PowerPoint to the next level — creating first class presentations that project a professional image — involves addressing a few key issues, including:
· AutoFormat defaults
Problem: PowerPoint’s designers included a couple of AutoFormat options that, by default, automatically reduce type size when you try to squeeze too much text into titles and lists. This can undermine slide-to-slide consistency, creating presentations with varying type sizes. (You may have wondered why type sizes often change automatically when you add or edit text, or increase or decrease the size of the text boxes.)
Solution: To keep type sizes consistent, select AutoCorrect from the Tools menu and click the AutoFormat As You Type tab. Then, deselect the AutoFit title text to placeholder and AutoFit body text to placeholder options. You may want to review these settings when starting another presentation.
· Limited onscreen guidance
Problem: By default, PowerPoint presentations only provide two alignment guides: one horizontal and one vertical. This makes it very hard to maintain consistent margins at the top, bottom, and sides of your visuals.
Solution: Unless you’re an experienced PowerPoint user, you may not know that PowerPoint lets you create additional horizontal and vertical alignment guides. To create additional guides, hold down the Opt key (Macintosh) or Alt key (Windows) and drag the new guides into position.
Note: you cannot “lock” these guides! As a result, you have to be careful that you don’t inadvertently grab and reposition them while working on your presentation. And, you have to remember to repeat this step when starting a new presentation.
· Formatting handouts
Problem: Handouts play an important role in presentation success. After printing a proof copy of your handouts, it’s usually necessary to reformat and realign the text elements of your handouts. Otherwise, the headers and footers may look awkward and text may not print properly.
Solution: To format the type face and type size used in your handouts, and properly align the text with the slide thumbnails and note-taking lines, select View, Format Master, and Handout Master. You can then highlight and reformat the text and drag the text boxes into alignment with the other page elements.
With a little time and care, using the above proofing questions and PowerPoint tips, you can not only create a great SlideShare presentation, but you can improve your ability to use PowerPoint for all types of content-related presentations to clients, prospects, and coworkers.
Looking for additional tips for using SlideShare as part of your content marketing efforts? Read Todd Wheatland’s book, “The Marketer’s Guide to SlideShare”.